Italian · Restaurants

Chianti Cafe – Willow Park

It was Disco Mary’s birthday on Saturday. Vintage Girl organized this gathering and she picked Chianti Cafe. She and Mindy comes to this location often and Mindy knows one of the servers.

When Vintage Girl booked the reservations, I thought of a restaurant I am dying to try called Garden of Italy. A couple of weeks ago, I saw Mayor Nenshi tweet about his meal there. I sent the girls an email suggesting we go, thus hinting we change the original plans. I guess I’m not as subtle as I think. Vintage Girl asked me straight out just when and for what occasion we should go to Garden of Italy?  I sheepishly said, “Whoever has a birthday after Disco Mary.” I’m a beta, not an alpha. Oh well, we are going to Garden of Italy for Vintage Girl’s birthday in May, though that’s months away.

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I use to go to the Crowfoot location with my friends for the $8.99 pasta specials when I was in grad school. The only thing that’s changed is the parmesan cheese is no longer grated fresh at your table. Instead, there’s a shaker. Mindy told me it’s the same cheese. Apparently, management discovered that grating the cheese at the table led to greater waste.

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Mindy ordered the spinach and bacon salad ($6). It tasted pretty much like I remembered. The bacon tasted like bacon bits and there was a generous amount of mushrooms. Mindy prefers the salad with more dressing. I agree, it helps mask the flavour of spinach.

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We shared a couple of appetizers: Ravioli Bites Trio ($9) and Fonduta ($10). Mindy dug into the dip before I could take a picture. She apologized profusely as Disco Mary reprimanded her, “She’s got to take a picture first!” No worries girls, I can improvise.

The crab dip was cheesy and warm, with chunks of crab and artichoke. The bread was toasted and smeared with a delicious pesto spread. Chianti’s version is better than my past attempts making crab dip.

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The trio of pasta wasn’t as yummy as the crab dip. The filling was sparse and the pasta  itself was hard. The sauce was a smokey chipotle that tasted like it came out of a bottle. Taste wise, there was little difference between the three types of stuffed pasta.

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I couldn’t decide which pasta to pick for my entree. Mindy told me that Chianti’s is very accommodating and they will let you switch the sauces, noodles or you can pick two and have both. I ordered the Mare e Monte Fettucine ($12.50)  and the Mediterranean Ravioli ($12.50). I’m not sure if Chianti charges extra for making changes or requesting a split order because Mindy treated me out for my belated birthday.

The mare e monte sauce was a light cream sauce mixed with scallops, peas and mushrooms. The scallops were plump and tender. I found the Mediterranean sauce bland. The lemon garlic wine oregano sauce was watery and I could just taste the individual components of the dish, boiled ravioli, sun-dried tomatoes, capers, feta cheese, spinach and artichokes. Again, the ravioli was hard.

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One of the many reasons I love going out with these girls is because they give me so much food. I tried Disco Mary’s Salmon Con Gamberoni ($18.50). The baked salmon was moist and tender. The mascarpone cheese sauce was heavy and swirled around my ravioli, made it taste a lot better.

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Mindy’s Pollo Alla Parmigiana ($16.50) was a good choice. The breaded chicken was crispy, covered in ham and bubbling with cheese. She opted for the shrimp fettucine, which was loaded with cheese and garlic.  I found out from our server that the spaghetti, linguine and fettucine is homemade, but the other pastas are not.

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I didn’t take pictures of Vintage Girl or Jeanette’s food because their plates were far away from me and I was too lazy to get up. I tried Jeanette’s veal and I thought it was tasty.

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Our server brought out a piece of chocolate cake with a candle for the birthday girl. I took a couple of bites. Drizzled with caramel sauce and dotted with whipped cream, with lots of layers of dense chocolate cake and sweet icing, it did the trick.

Chianti in Willow Park was busy, filled with mostly families and groups of friends. I can see why. Service was friendly and attentive throughout our meal.  I also appreciate how accommodating the restaurant was when it comes to changing the dishes based on your preference. Chianti’s is a good option for family with kids. There’s something for all ages and the food is affordable, more so on Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays.

Chianti Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bars/Lounges · Chain Restaurants · Special Occasion · Steakhouse

The Keg – Crowfoot Location

Veronica and Jughead asked L and I to join them for dinner at the Keg. I was keen to see them but I didn’t have much enthusiasm to eat the Keg. My past experiences at the University location left a lot to be desired. I’m glad I went, as I found the Crowfoot location far superior in terms of service, ambience and food.

screen-shot-2016-10-02-at-9-07-11-amThe first table we were seated at had broken heat lamps. A server walking by jumped in and told us he would have a new table for us in a second, after he cleaned it. I was really impressed with our interaction with several of the servers we met throughout the night. Everyone was professional, friendly and pleasant. The HR department did a phenomenal job hiring their staff.

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The boys ordered beers while Veronica and I shared the Home Ranch Petit Verdot, Petite Sirah & Malbec – California by J. Lohr ($38, on tap). All wines on tap are served in a decanter, which I thought was cool.

Veronica ordered a whole bunch of appetizers. I enjoyed the sauce in the Escargot ($11). We all tasted curry notes except for Veronica, who is Indian (her ancestry is from India and she prefers the term ‘Indian’). She stated that the seasoning was not curry and we had weak tastebuds if we thought it did. I much preferred the complimentary warm sourdough bread we received over the buns that were shaped like a butt. The butt buns tasted generic, like something you would get at Safeway.

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Veronica always orders the Mushrooms Neptune Crab ($11). The mushrooms were covered in a heavy cream cheese sauce. Veronica gets annoyed when I take pictures of the food when we go out . That’s her finger-pointing at a mushroom she ate before I could snap a shot.

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My favourite appetizer at the Keg are the Scallops and Bacon ($12). The scallops were small but silky and sweet. My husband liked the cocktail sauce, which was tangy and tasted like there was some horseradish in it. The bacon was practically still sizzling when this arrived at our table.

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L ordered the 12 ounce Top Sirloin Steak ($33), Jughead ordered the Peppercorn New York Steak ($36) and Veronica ordered the Californian Greens ($12). I shared my husband’s steak and I thought it was cooked to the requested medium rare. The stuffed potato was a bit 90s but it tasted good.

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Veronica’s salad isn’t a looker but it was huge and tasted fresh. The plate was piled high with greens, tomatoes, black beans, mushrooms, avocado, and pine nuts. In the future, I would not hesitate to order a salad at the Keg.

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For myself, I ordered the French Onion Soup ($10). The broth was served warm, not hot. The cheese was soft and soggy.  I’ve tried frozen French onion soup from Costco that’s a whole lot better than Keg’s version.

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Veronica’s daughter dropped by with a friend after their movie and they shared a Brownie Sundae ($8). Kids aren’t allowed in the patio so we were moved into the dining room. Veronica and I ordered blueberry tea as our after dinner drink.

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Yes, I nitpick a couple of things I didn’t like, such as the French Onion soup and a butt shaped bun. However, the food was good and the service  at the Crowfoot location was flawless. Thanks Veronica and Jughead for a wonderful meal.

View my food journey on Zomato!

The Keg Steakhouse + Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato